Friday, April 27, 2007

Spinning Whorl #3 already out

When I got my mail, I found what was clearly a magazine in an envelope, but I couldn't imagine what it was. I have no reviews pending (since I just got a review in to Tangent a couple days ago), and didn't think I had any publications already in print. But turns out I did. While this doesn't quite rival the turnaround for Reflection's Edge from acceptance to publication, that was online. So for something to go to print this soon--accepted on April 5--wow. The cover art is very cool. My firewall still isn't liking me to put images on the blog, so I'll just describe it as a man in a top hat and sunglasses, with ZZ Top beard and hair...and tiger-striped orange skin. I haven't read all the stories inside, but what I've read has been good.

My story, as I think I mentioned when it was accepted, is an older one. In fact, it's probably the first story I wrote to be consciously within the speculative fiction genre (apart from my first novel, which I'd already begun by then). But last fall when I submitted it to Spinning Whorl, I took it back out and completely reworked it. The story is of a people whose life span equals exactly half that of the cycle of the moon. So as the moon grows, they know that it means the approach of their death...and yet they love and worship the moon and long for it to grow bigger and be visible for even more of the night. There's more to the story, of course, involving the invention of writing, the rise of a different generation, and the nature of life (or something like that), but that's the kernel that gave rise to the story. I must have been researching the moon cycle at the time I wrote it--the moon cycle is very important to my first novel, so some of the research sparked the story.

Anyway, go check it out!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Done? Can it be?

So last week sometime I mentioned how I was struggling with finishing the last chapter. I got that finished pretty soon after posting, but I wasn't ready to let myself celebrate, because then I moved on to the epilogue (which I decided really was necessary). I finished that over the weekend, I think...but then I still wasn't ready to let myself celebrate because when I was at about chapter 15 or so I realized that I needed to insert an additional chapter earlier but put it off until the end. So a couple nights ago I finished a scene within that chapter, and yesterday I just had it sitting open all day, not sure what to do with it. It was much shorter than any of the other chapters and seemed to need one more scene...of something. But I couldn't decide what.

So I'm declaring the first draft done. If it needs another scene, that can come in the second draft. Can I celebrate yet? I'm don't quite feel like it--there's so much I know I want to work on during the next phase that I'm in one of those this-is-a-bunch-of-crap phases. And I don't think it's quite real that the first draft is done. Maybe that'll hit me sometime over the weekend, and I'll feel elated.

Final word count is 120k, half again as long as either of the other two manuscripts I have (and it's typical for me to increase word count in later drafts, as opposed to what seems the norm for many writers). I really am excited about this novel, I just don't feel that excitement at the moment. It'll come. I'll do a brush up of the final chapters to show them to critique groups, and then I'll bury it for a few months before I come back to it. How strange. What will I work on while it's buried?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More on Nemonymous

You can win a free copy of Nemonymous 7 (Zencore!) with a little bit of detective work. Des Lewis has freed all the writers to annouce that they have a story appearing in the issue, but he isn't posting the list of accepted authors anywhere official. So what do you have to do? A little sleuthing--find as many authors who have announced their acceptance and submit your list of contributors to him (I'll try to post the link later today when I have a bit more time edit: his posting at the Nightshade forums says to just email him, so you can follow my link to Nemonymous on the right and find a way to contact him there). Up to ten copies will be awarded. If no one gets all of them correct, then he'll go down the line through those who have the most correct.

Also, he asked in the email announcing this for us to mention that he has good deals on the earlier issues on his ebay site (just search for Nemonymous on ebay, I imagine...but again I'll try to add the link later--it's also posted on the Nightshade forums edit: here it is). I have the earlier issues, and I can state that the design is very good. I only got them last fall and it always takes me longer to read things that I own when there's so much from the library (I guess deadlines are good for me), but I've enjoyed what I've read from the first two issues.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fossilized Forest

This is very cool--a news story about a fossilized forest covering 40 square miles. It's in the ceilings of a coal mine, and even a picture of a single fossil looks pretty impressive, with the fossil coal-black against the lighter stone. But 40 square miles--picture that (that's 8 miles by 5 miles or 4 by 10 or whatever--go ahead and relate that to where you live a second....OK. Pretty impressive, eh?).

Can you imagine being the miners who looked up and saw this? The article says that miners frequently find individual fossils on the ceilings of veins of coal, but think about your reaction when he realize it just goes on, interconnected, still preserving the spaces between different types of trees and vegetation. Or imagine if people from a time when science hadn't already accustomed them to the idea of millions of years of fossil history--what might they have made of this forest of stone?

I've always been fascinated with the types of forests that scientists believe were on earth at the time of dinosaurs and earlier. OK, I admit it, I've always been fascinated by forests regardless. Once I used a fern-dominated forest in a story, but after reading this I find myself really wanting to use something like that again.

In a similar vein, another recent article on MSNBC was about a fossil of a twenty-foot tall fungus that grew at a time when the biggest trees were only a few feet high. Yikes!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Earth Day

Hope everyone has a happy earth day--go out and do something to celebrate. Plant a tree. Go for a hike in the woods or mountains. Say a prayer for the planet. Sit outside and enjoy the fresh air (or wish for fresh air if it's too polluted where you are). Sign a petition. I think I'll be putting in a bit of time on getting our vegetable garden constructed. Probably go for a walk or run too once my son wakes up from his nap. Whatever you do...just celebrate it, and don't let it slip by ignored.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nemonymous

I've been cleared to announce that I have a story accepted for Nemonymous Seven (Zencore)! I can't say which story, but my name will be listed in the back of the anthology without any clue which story was mine. This is a change from earlier editions, which weren't labeled at all, and the writers had to keep quiet until six months after its publication (and there's one story--in issue 3, I think--that hasn't been identified even yet). The problem with that, I'm guessing, is that authors couldn't help promote the issue, so with the new edition all authors are identified just not tied to their respective stories yet.

This is really something that we writers should support--if you've ever felt you had a story rejected because you don't have a recognizable name, if you've suspected that a famous writer would have had the identical story snatched up in a heartbeat, they you should support Nemonymous and any other publications that use anonymous submissions. (I recently submitted somewhere that mentioned they removed all identifying marks before handing it to their editors...but now I forget which magazine that was.)

The process for this was really fun for me--I submitted two stories, using an old juno email address for one and creating a new hotmail account for the other. All very anonymously (so the email addresses gave no clue who I am). I'll be posting links and such later. But until I get around to that, you can always simply google Nemonymous, and I'm sure you'll find the info. There's a Myspace page and other stuff out there, so check it out!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Running to stand still

Arrgh. I've been working on the final chapter of my novel...and finding myself constantly distracted. Yesterday I spent all my writing time revising and formatting stories and poems for submission, researching markets, submitting them, and dinking around on the internet. I keep opening up the document and looking at it and adding a word or comma or taking one away and calling that work on the chapter. This seems to strike me most often when I'm about to tackle something that has been playing in my mind for a while or that is supposed to tie together different strands from the rest of the story...both of which applies right now.

I've plucked out a few paragraphs this way, and I think the momentum might finally be shifting today, but it's still frustrating that it's been taking me this long to get writing. I just had to get this frustration down somewhere so it wasn't distracting me from following the momentum where it takes me.

So now I'm off to get dragged along by the words. I hope...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rest in Peace, Kurt Vonnegut

I'm surprised this hasn't come up on any of the fantasy and science fiction forums I visit, but the NY Times has reported that Kurt Vonnegut died last night at age 84. I can't say I've read a lot of his books--his work seems to be the type I need to read well spaced out, otherwise it all blurs together--but I always respected him as an author.

Here's a link to the NY Times article. It's possible you may need to have a free membership to read it--I'm not sure.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Alchemy of Stars

I've been periodically mentioning some of the books I recently got with gift certificates, etc. One that I haven't mentioned is this collection of (almost) all the Rhysling-winning poems from 1978-2004 (there was, I believe, one poem that they didn't get permission to reprint...possibly from things I've seen elsewhere through political infighting stuff). I've always enjoyed poetry, well, maybe not always, but at least since high school. Among my favorites I've always counted Gerard Manley Hopkins and E. E. Cummings (the urban legend that he legally changed his name to lowercase is not true, by the way). And countless individual poems--"Dover Beach," "The Hollow Men," "These," "Kubla Khan," poems by Donne and Herbert, by Marianne Moore and Denise Levertov, by Andrew Marvell, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Wendell Berry, and Dylan Thomas. By Paul Simon and Bob Dylan even (my assigned poetry book for my first creative writing class included Simon's "Sound of Silence").

So that's a pretty broad range of subjects and styles (and most certainly leaves out some that on another day I would demand be included). But I wasn't terribly familiar with speculative poetry itself, so it's been fun to familiarize myself a bit. I first became aware of the book from Strange Horizons's series of articles examining the winning poems from several years in depth. (And I had already been learning a bit about the field just by reading the new poems they and other online magazines have been publishing).

I don't read a poetry collection straight through or exclusively. So I haven't read all of them yet. And I can't claim to have a favorite just from reading through a poem once. But a couple jumped out at me as being especially good, and since I read them both on the same day, that seemed worthy of note (though it could be that I was just in an especially poetic mood that day or something). Usually I'm more drawn to the short form poems, but these are both long form winners, both from 1989: Bruce Boston's "In the Darkened Hours," which beings "So you are lost again / beneath the turning hub / of the fire flecked sky"; and John M. Ford's "Winter Solstice, Camelot Station," which I like especially for its concept, a strange story of Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table retold in a train station--wonderfully evocative (and evocative tends to be what I like about those poems that are my favorites...and stories often as well).

Monday, April 09, 2007

Back to normality (?)

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Good Friday/ Easter Sunday and Passover. My in-laws came out to visit, which is always chaotic. It was great to see my son with them--he was a bit overwhelmed at times, but enjoyed it a lot also. The timing wasn't great for my wife's work, since she had some extra call shifts this past week (including on Easter), and it wasn't great for the weather--cold and rain/snow mix most of the time they were here. So much for my grand plans to have them help me get dirt and lumber and build a little vegetable garden in our backyard. But it was good to see them.

So the normality is that it's back to just me and my son at home in the daytime...and also that the weather is looking better. The sun is out! In Michigan, 4 days without the sun would have been nothing, not even worth taking note of. But in Colorado, that's practically historic. So I'm hoping to go for a run in a bit to enjoy that.

In writing, I didn't really do anything yesterday, but I actually did manage to get some done the other days, even with guests. I finished the penultimate chapter of my novel in progress, the climactic scene that's been in my head since I started writing. I'm afraid the final chapter will have a lot of loose ends to tie up though, so we'll see if it ends up turning into two or if I need some kind of epilogue (I'm resisting that idea, but I won't rule it out).

I also sold a story while they were here--"People of the Growing Moon" to Spinning Whorl. I'll write more about that when it gets published. It's an older story, but one that I completely tore apart and put back together in a new, more interesting way right before sending it to Spinning Whorl.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Another review up at Tangent

This time I reviewed just four stories from a new anthology of the best fantasy of 2006--the rest of the stories had been reviewed in the past by Tangent in their original publications.

I hadn't seen the table of contents when I did the review, only the four stories assigned to me (and at that time at least, I couldn't find the ToC listed on Prime's website). So I was pleased to see the entire list yesterday and notice that it included one of the stories from Strange Horizons that I mentioned as memorable back in December, “The Water Poet and the Four Seasons” by David J. Schwartz. Add to that the fact that the other story I mentioned in the post, "Draco Campestris" by Sarah Monette will be reprinted in Best American Fantasy, edited by the VanderMeers and Matthew Cheney...it's good to see that my preferences aren't so far off from what some editors like as well.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Honorable Mention for Lok-Altor

A couple of months ago, I mentioned that my story "The Bridge of Lok-Altor," has been selected as a finalist for the next issue of Allegory. Well, it won't be published in the ezine--it was one of 19 finalists out of 400+ submissions, but it didn't make the final cut (which is chosen at least in part on issue balance, not just on quality of the finalists). But at least it will be listed on their site as an honorable mention come May (if I remember right).

This story seems a bit cursed, as it was also one of the stories I'd had accepted by JWP before it went under. Oh well, I already have in mind where to send it next (and here's hoping it doesn't kill that market). It's also an older story, one of the few that I wrote in Michigan and am still shopping around.